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We operate in more than 50 countries around the world. If your country is not on the list, please refer to our global contacts.

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We operate in more than 50 countries around the world. If your country is not on the list, please refer to our global contacts.

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We operate in more than 50 countries around the world. If your country is not on the list, please refer to our global contacts.

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We operate in more than 50 countries around the world. If your country is not on the list, please refer to our global contacts.

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News
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Think (beyond) FM: Adapt or Disappear

Rebecca Jennings, UK Marketing and Communication Manager, ISS UK reviews the recent ThinkFM conference

Never has a conference title been so apt for its content. Although actually, this could be applied to any industry in today’s fiercely competitive and changing world.

Nonetheless, here was the FM industry’s main event of the year and the title prompted much debate about developments within the industry. After a number of big headlines in the media about outsourcing and its downsides, it was comforting to hear that it’s not all bad. The collapse of fellow service provider Carillion was sad. Many employees who had been there for years were unsure of their future and to see any business fail in such a way is regrettable. Such is true on the High Street, where we are seeing many businesses fail if their business models aren’t quite right or if they have lost sight of their customers’ needs. Think Blockbuster, Toys R Us and BHS to name just a few.

So with a brave title and speakers to suit, this year’s BIFM Conference promised to be a provocative day to ‘think FM’. The conference has a reputation for being a must-visit event for everyone in FM – to hear all sides of the story from consultants to professors to clients to subject matter experts. It’s a forum to share and discuss new ideas, meet like-minded colleagues and of course hear the latest from the FM grapevine.

Cathy Newman, English journalist and presenter for Channel 4 News opened the day and Vicky Pryce, Economist led the keynote speech. Vicky gave an in-depth summary of everything affecting businesses currently, with Brexit weighing heavily on the outlook. ‘We assume that we will go back to ‘normal’ - back to a previous state, but there are many unpredictable factors affecting the world and us all. What is normal?!’ Tales of GDP, import and export levels, productivity, labour and investment all followed and it was interesting to hear an objective view, albeit admittedly not the most positive economic outlook I have heard. Unpredictability was a reoccurring theme. 

The Conference agenda continued with presentations from FM practitioners and specialists on subjects covering public sector outsourcing, the CSC framework and the importance of strategic outsourcing. Ed Hudson from financial services organisation, UBS, gave an eloquent view of the bank’s FM journey over the last ten years and the way that the department has adapted to accommodate an ever-evolving workplace which focuses on the wellbeing of its employees. Moving from in-house service delivery to a true supplier partnership arrangement, Ed talked about the need for transparency and openness, aligned ambitions and trust leading to longer term relationships. I quite liked his idea of a ‘Chief Workplace Officer’. (ISS was coincidentally part of UBS’ FM journey having been appointed their IFM partner in 2016, so it was great to hear of their success.)

Baroness Ruby McGregor-Smith CBE joined the panel for a lively Q&A session with other FM professionals. Ruby’s depth of FM experience was apparent and many were keen to hear her views on partnerships, contracts and the governance within the industry. Speaking of 25 year PFI agreements, Ruby agreed that partnership deals were too long-term; "who knows what arrangement will be right for the future when our circumstances, needs and environments are changing at such a fast pace!"

Data, technology, people and the future were the red threads through the case studies of the day with a snapshot of the many different angles in which FM is based. From digital innovation in FM at the Burj Khalifa (tallest building in the world), to how vibration analysis can enable smarter condition-based maintenance. There was also insight into the future of workplace and how data of the building users can improve the user experience – all ideals that I think most FM companies are pursuing. You may have heard of ISS’ partnership with technology giants IBM? We have been working with IBM to develop a technological solutions to capitalise on data and the Internet of Things to make a difference to ‘people’ – a real focus for us.    

It’s productive for the industry to come together for events such as ThinkFM! - to talk about opportunities and challenges, the future and the major disruptors and how we can continue to advance the profession together - with RICS, BIFM and IFMA all playing leading roles.

BIFM’s Chief Executive, Linda Hausmanis, commented: “Facilities management is being increasingly recognised as having the capacity to deliver real performance benefits for companies, but it also faces significant disruptors. This conference will ignite the enthusiasm of FMs to seize the opportunities that the current disrupted landscape offers and empower them to act.”

A great industry debate, and of course more interesting times ahead. 

Find out more...

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...about FM and ISS

Rebecca Jennings, UK Marketing and Communications Manager - ISS UK

Email Rebecca